Braeden from Mitchell, Manitoba
Vic, who is a second-year player in the Packers organization that intrigues you in this upcoming year?
All three of the young cornerbacks fit as answers to that question. I think all three have up arrows, and I think it’s likely one of them will emerge as a star.
Jose from Rizal, Philippines
Why would the Packers let Casey Hayward walk away? He was a second-round pick and a good player. What does this mean in regards to how they view Gunter, Hyde, Randall and Rollins?
I think the answer to your second question answers your first question. You can’t keep everybody. Why have the Broncos allowed so many good players to leave? They didn’t want to do it; they had to do it as a means of managing their cap. In the Packers’ case, because they’ve managed their cap with vision, they were able to allow a player at a position of depth to leave, instead of losing a player from the top of a position where depth doesn’t exist. I don’t think fans spend enough time learning the nuances of the cap, therefore, they don’t understand how cap strategy relates to roster decisions. It’s fascinating. I consider it to be the most engaging aspect of professional football.
Read more: Hayward heads to San Diego
Joe from Asbury, IA
I bet the wolves are getting louder. The Bears sign both Trevathan and Freeman, and more and more it looks like Ragland and Lee will be out of reach in the draft. I sure hope Ted has a plan. Do you believe Jake Ryan and Sam Barrington are enough?
I think the Packers need to add talent to the position, and I have no doubt they’ll do that in this year’s draft. The Packers have a plan. They know who they’re going to draft. It’s all about what round, not what player.
Harry from Rochester, NY
Vic, if Vince Lombardi was alive today, what would he say about Lambeau Field since his arrival in 1959?
He’d be as stunned by it as I was when I covered my first game there following the 2003 renovation. I’m proud to have been covering the team during the south end zone expansion; it’s magnificent. Now we’re heading into the Titletown District era. The Packers are much more than a football team. In my opinion, the Packers are first and foremost a place.
Mike from Berrien Springs, MI
You can defend Thompson all you want but the fact is New England, Seattle, Ron Wolf and others simply do a better job of filling in holes to put their team over the top for a chance at a Super Bowl. Other approaches are proving to be better, if the goal is to win it. It can be done without mortgaging the future and that has been proven over and over. Why are you so condescending, disrespectful to anyone who would suggest Thompson’s approach is not working?
Every day at this time of the year I calmly and repetitively explain to readers I believe expensive free agency is a risky means of player acquisition that claims more victims than its rewards justify. It’s my opinion. You don’t have to share it. I’ll also remind you that during Ted Thompson’s years as the Packers’ general manager, the Seahawks, Patriots and Packers have all won the same number of Super Bowls, one. You said that’s the goal, right? I love the Packers’ roster and I believe it is beautifully positioned to continue its pursuit of the Super Bowl for the next several years, just as it has for the past several years. That, in my opinion, is the other goal.
Ted from Mankato, MN
Vic, now that Casey Hayward is gone to San Diego, do you envision the Packers spending another early to mid-round pick for another slot corner to replace Hayward, as they did for Williams and House last year?
Cornerback is a position at which you want a constant flow of young talent onto your roster. It wouldn’t surprise me should the Packers pick a corner in this year’s draft. Questions such as yours explain the need for a draft-and-develop team to acquire extra picks. If you’re not signing free agents, then you need the equivalent of those free agents you’re not signing in the form of extra picks. It’s one or the other, free agents or picks. I prefer the picks because I prefer young, affordable players you can develop your way and according to your timetable.
Pete from Sheffield, UK
With Hayward gone, I predict a good comp pick for him next year. What would you expect?
A four would be a reasonable expectation.
Greg from Ann Arbor, MI
Vic, to what extent are a team’s actions during free agency affected by their evaluations of the incoming draft class and what they expect to be able to accomplish during the draft?
I think the depth of the draft class should be the No. 1 factor in what a team does in free agency. Why sign old and expensive when you can draft young and affordable? I think this is a good year for inside linebackers.
Eddie from Rosemead, CA
It’s always a pleasure reading your column! Who would you name your top five backup quarterbacks that never became the starter?
The “never became the starter” part makes it tough. For example, Alex Van Pelt becomes an answer because he never became the starter and he was a reliable backup for 10 years, but I have a feeling you’re looking for more dramatic names. How about guys who came off the bench to do big things? Jeff Hostetler won a Super Bowl. George Blanda had a run of thrilling comebacks. Frank Reich engineered that amazing second-half rally against the Oilers in the playoffs. Earl Morrall came off the bench to lead the Colts to Super Bowl III, and then a few years later he came off the bench to help lead the Dolphins to an undefeated season. Jim Plunkett is my No. 1 backup quarterback. He resurrected his career by coming off the bench and leading the Raiders to two Super Bowl titles.
Violet from Sioux City, IA
How far is LB Jaylon Smith expected to fall with his injury? Is there any possibility the Packers could snag him with their second or third-round pick?
I think Smith’s injury will drop him into the second round. I don’t know what the Packers’ opinion is of Smith. He’s a very good player, so I would expect the Packers to have interest. The injury is the issue. Do you want to draft a player who can’t help you until 2017? Can anybody predict what the long-range impact of that injury will be on Smith’s career? I used Willis McGahee as a best-case example.
Mackie from McKinney, TX
Vic, for Green Bay to become a top-five defense in the NFL, where does the improvement have to come from, the line, LBs or DBs?
I think the Packers need a more consistent pass rush. They need to be able to count on it in all games and especially at crunch time. We saw its impact in the playoff win in Washington, but the rush was missing late in the Arizona game. Returning Clay Matthews to outside linebacker will help provide a more consistent pass rush.
Michael from Appleton, WI
Vic, the Packers have needed help at inside linebacker for the past year and, so far, we haven’t found the right answer. If there isn’t a good answer in this year’s draft, how can our defense compensate for a weaker inside linebacker crew? Would bolstering our defensive line help, or is it altering defensive scheme? Or does the improvement of our defense depend on a strong ILB?
The Packers need to address inside linebacker. I have no doubt they will address inside linebacker. I believe they will find depth at inside linebacker in this draft, just as they found the depth they needed to find at cornerback in last year’s draft.
Mark from Madison, WI
Vic, I enjoy your blog usually, but I have to admit your stance on free agency is getting on my nerves. You assume the wolves – you’ve even assigned those who don’t agree with your view a name, just because they are counter to your right-tilted opinion on the matter – are coming from the angle of a break-the-bank scenario that is just easy bait for a sucker’s debate. Don’t insult the intelligence of your Packers fans. We get our cap and that we don’t have a billionaire owner. We are abundantly clear on how dumb it would be to go after any of the mega-dollar free agents. So few Packer fans want that. You know, there is a middle ground that is not far from the ultra-right approach by Ted. We all agree build through the draft, in general. It doesn’t mean only build through the draft. A wise second-tier, free-agent signing or two that doesn’t mortgage our team’s future is what we need.
I completely agree. What was the issue?
Dan from Chicago, IL
Vic, I know it’s not an exact science, but how do first-round values change throughout the round? How much more does it cost to move from 10 to five than from 25 to 20?
The numeric table’s values are affected by the draft’s depth. The drop-off point in talent is often between picks 10 and 15, but I’m not hearing that this year. I’ll ask Tony, but I get the sense the abundance of big guys is adding value to the bottom of the first round and into the top of the second round.
Jerry from Wilmington, NC
Vic, do you anticipate Green Bay to pick up another quarterback now that Scott Tolzien is gone?
Gary from Sheboygan, WI
Vic, previously you said you thought the ability to trade comp picks will hinder free agency. How so?
I think the picks will be perceived to be worth more than the players that produced them.
Neil from Waukesha, WI
Vic, it seems obvious to me that waking up to Sonny and Cher every morning has eventually made you a better person.
The alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. ET today, and Sonny and Cher were singing about Danny Trevathan and Ladarius Green again. I like it better than the Byrd, Byrd, Byrd song.
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